“Sometimes you see a deal that is just too good to pass up… Acquisition Disorder is rearing its’ ugly head and you barely notice what you are doing until you hit the “Complete Transaction” button… Oftentimes, it is only then that you begin to do the critical thinking and background work you should have done in the first place.”
I was recently contacted by someone who had purchased a “Straight Razor Shaving Kit” from Amazon at a really great price. For people with more experience, that is ‘Caution Flag Number One’… Cheap Price. I asked for pictures as I didn’t recognize the name Equinox International and, just from the pictures, the razor seemed to have a really nice fit and finish and a solid grind/metal work. This was actually a more challenging situation as this brings me to ‘Caution Flag Number Two’… Looks too good for the price. There are some introductory razors out there which have their merits at a low price point but also carry the added burden of about a 50% Quality Control percentage meaning that, out of every 2 you buy, you are going to have one which will require Restorative Work beyond Basic Honing. For a New-In-Box razor, in my opinion, that is just not acceptable. However, there are people who love them and don’t mind putting the time, energy and money into it and making lemonade out of lemons. But, it is just simply not my preference… If I’m going to put time, money, effort on top of blood, sweat and tears into something it is going to be a 100 year old razor that I can truly be proud of and expect to get another 100 years out of… A Restored “NIB” razor just doesn’t do it for me and so I’ll leave those type projects for the people who want them.
However, when you are working on projects for someone else, sometimes you have to put in your due diligence and be a little flexible. Thankfully there are resources found in Forums like StraightRazorPlace.com and multiple Facebook Groups such as… Straight Razor Place Facebookers, Razor & Brush, and Wet Shaving Enablers Buy, Sell, & Trade… which have information on “Brands Of Razors Best Avoided”. Like I mentioned above, there are razors out there which are controversial and so you may find yourself on one side of that fence or another. But, if you are just starting out, it is best to listen to what the majority are saying initially until you get enough experience under your belt with which to make better critical decisions. Alas, that brings us to ‘Caution Flag Number Three’… What if it isn’t on those lists?
That is exactly the case with this razor… It was not included in any of the “Brands Of Razors Best Avoided”. So, I was stuck with a judgment call but I had one more resource left that was sketchy at best… Amazon Reviews. As it turned out, they were no help as no-one reviewing seemed to know what they were talking about from a Honing Perspective.
I ultimately ended up Honing the razor and I was initially so excited about the results that I Wishlisted this brand on Amazon preparing to order a bunch of them in order to set up a large number of Beginner Razors… At $9 each, as long as they held an edge they were going to be a steal! Discretion is always the best course of action and I have enough experience to know I must cover all the bases first before committing to a decision so I kept them on the Wishlist pending a Shave-Test… All people who hone razors should perform a live Shave-Test (.. whether it is your own razor or you are honing for someone else..) to make sure that the edge is “Shave-Ready” meaning keen, smooth and comfortable as that is the only true test which can give you this information; and even then, it is still subjective.
Unfortunately, that is where this story ends… I did the Shave-Test and with the first handful of strokes I knew I was right in the pocket for Shave Ready. However, in the next handful of strokes I knew there was an issue… Every following stroke seemed to drop the level of keen and smooth a bit until, before I was even done with my first pass, the razor was barely shaving at all even with added pressure which is something you are not supposed to use in the first place. Now I knew the reason for the low price point even if I didn’t know the exact reason… It could have been steel that was just too soft, an improper or absent heat-treat or another factor specific to the steel of this razor. What I knew was that the steel would not hold an edge whatsoever despite having a spot-on, shave-ready hone to start out with. Ultimately, I needed confirmation and that part was simple… I posted on one of the Facebook Shaving Groups with pictures and a description and it was not long before someone replied stating their experience with the Equinox International was nearly the same as mine.
“Despite the initial positives of a Low Price Point, Good Fit & Finish, and not finding it on the “Brands Of Razors Best Avoided”… This razor should absolutely be avoided. There are other controversial razor brands out there but some of those are able to be made Shave-Ready and hold an edge well once you get it there with proper honing. With something like this situation, unless you know what is lacking in the steel and have the knowledge and ability to correct it, there is simply nothing you can do but learn from the experience… Worst of all, sometimes a learning experience like this can cost you money on top of time and effort wasted.”
Take a look at my website: RazorsEdgeWork.com and my Razor Blog for more information on Razor Honing, Restoration and Wet Shaving. Contact me here if you have more detailed questions or if you’d like additional information on any of the services I provide.